Part 4: The Tondo: domestic interior – research

Brief

Do your own research into some of the artists mentioned in the course notes. Can you find any other examples of tondo painting? Try to decide why the artist in question has decided to paint in this format. Look also at artists who have focused on aspects of the domestic interior. Does any of this work give you any ideas for your tondo painting in Part Four?

Tondo examples

A tondo is a Renaissance term for a circular work of art, notably employed for paintings of the Madonna during the early Italian Renaissance.

Michelangelo (c.1504-05) Madonna (Tondo Pitti). [Marble sculpture]. 80cm diameter. Available at: http://www.museumsinflorence.com/musei/museum_of_bargello.html [Accessed: 27 February 2017].
“In this tondo Michelangelo placed, next to the stern Madonna, a Child whose pose recalls that of ancient funeral genii. Thus the overall effect, despite the apparently playful attitude of the Child, is deeply serious, and the Madonna has an almost prophetic force, because of her size, which bursts out from the frame of the relief.”  Available at: http://www.wga.hu/html_m/m/michelan/1sculptu/2/2tondo1.html [Accessed: 27 February 2017].

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Michelangelo (c.1507) Doni Tondo (Doni Madonna) [Oil and tempera on panel]. Available at: http://www.spacial-anomaly.com/the-tondo-circular-art/ [Accessed: 26 February 2017].
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Parmigianino (1524) Self-portrait in a convex mirror. [Oil on wood]. Available at: http://www.artble.com/artists/parmigianino/paintings/self-portrait_in_a_convex_mirror [Accessed: 27 February 2017].
“The painting is not on a flat canvas but on a section of a wooden sphere that reproduces the shape of a convex mirror. It is said that Parmigianino had a ball of wood made up at a turner’s and then divided this in two, and on this he painted everything that he saw of himself in the mirror. The gilded circular frame surrounding the image also adds to the effect that the viewer is looking at a mirror.”

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Titian (c.1544-46) The triumph of love. [Oil on canvas mounted on panel] 88.3cm diameter. Available at: https://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/upload/pdf/vol-34-cat-8-to-13-2013.pdf [Accessed: 26 February 2017].
The circular format is reminiscent of a medallion.

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Caravaggio (1597) Medusa. [Oil on canvas, mounted on a convex wooden shield]. Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence, Italy. Available at: http://www.artble.com/artists/caravaggio/paintings/medusa [Accessed: 27 February 2017]. Mounted on a 60x55cm wooden shield.
“Caravaggio was a pioneer in Italian Baroque style, which grew out of the Mannerist art movement. Italian Baroque was very similar to Italian Renaissance, yet the color palette was darker, and richer, and themes of religion were more popular.”

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Lee, M. (n.d.) Medusa’s Overfaced (Caravaggio). [Acrylic on paper plate] 24cm diameter. Available at: https://mindyleedotme.files.wordpress.com/2013/04/medusa-carravagio.jpg [Accessed: 26 February 2017].
Mindy Lee is a contemporary painter who uses paper plates – visceral, thickly-painted, edible-looking paintings, using a pastel palette.

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Frans Hals (1626-28) Drinking boy (Taste). [Oil on panel] Available at: http://www.frans-hals.org/Drinking-Boy-(Taste).html [Accessed: 27 February 2017].
Tondo on square – image possibly reversed using a lense? In:
Hockney, D. (2006) Secret knowledge: Rediscovering the lost techniques of the old masters. London: Thames & Hudson, p.118.

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Fragonard, J-H. (c1775) The happy family. [Oil on canvas]. Online. Available at: http://www.nga.gov/content/ngaweb/Collection/art-object-page.46036.html [Accessed: 28 March 2017].
The joys of domesticity!

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Delaunay, R. (1913) The first disk. [Oil on canvas]. 134x134cm. Available at: http://www.the-athenaeum.org/art/detail.php?ID=178814 [Accessed: 27 February 2017].
“…the purest of abstractions of this time, a circular painting of seven concentric bands of solid colours divided into quarters, with the more intense primaries and complementaries closer to the centre.” In: Foster, H., Krauss, R.E. and Bois, Y.-A. (2004) Art since 1900: Modernism, Antimodernism and Postmodernism. New York: Thames & Hudson, pp.122-3.

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Escher, M.C. (1943) Self-portrait II. In: Escher, M.C. (1972) The graphic work of M.C.Escher – introduced and explained by the artist. United Kingdom: Pan Books, biographical notes.

So, you want detail?

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Dali, S. (1957) The grand opera. [Oil on canvas] 93cm diameter. In: Descharnes, R. and Neret, G. (2001) Dali: The paintings. Germany: Taschen GmbH, p. 494.
A wee bit creepy – opera to shock.

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Edefalk, C. (1998) At the moment untitled. [Oil on canvas] 168cm diameter. In: Schwabsky, B. (2004) Vitamin P: New perspectives in painting . New York: Phaidon Press, p.102.
There is fun to be had in the use of a circular format – composition with humour!

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Rostovsky, P. (2001) Epiphany Model 2. [Mixed media, Painting and sculpture]. Painting 17.7cm diameter. In: Schwabsky, B. (2004) Vitamin P: New perspectives in painting . New York: Phaidon Press, p.285.
Installation of a Romantic landscape viewed by minute figure atop a pedestal as awed spectator – cosmic cloudscape captured in the round.

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Fairnington, M. (2004) Zebra. [Oil on wood] (35cm) Available at: http://www.markfairnington.com/page10.htm [Accessed: 26 February 2017].
Mark Fairnington – uses surfaces like oak/focuses on detail.

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Andrews, I. (2009) The Ecstasy of St.Teresa. [Acrylic on canvas] 40x40cm. Available at: http://www.re-title.com/artists/iain-andrews2.asp [Accessed: 28 February 2017].
“My paintings begin as a dialogue with an image from art history – a painting by an Old Master that may then be rearranged or used as a starting point from which to playfully but reverently deviate. My recent work is concerned with the struggle to capture the relationship between the spiritual and the sensual, apparent opposites that are expressed in my work through the conflict of high narrative themes and sensuous painterly marks. The sheer enjoyment of making these marks is not intended to be a Dionysian pursuit that drowns out the appearance of the real through a curtain of subjective, expressionistic gestures, but rather an attempt to transform and redeem the form through the act of making.”

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Acloque, H. (2010) The Wheel. [Acrylic and resin on canvas] 20.3×25.4cm  Available at: http://www.hennyacloque.com/paintings/ [Accessed: 26 February 2017].
Henny Acloque references images from medieval objects, works of Breugel, Cranach and German renaissance –

“Appropriating the work of deceased artists, I forensically unpick and reassemble the layers of each image I work from. I view my paintings as being evidence of evidence. I bind the paintings (mostly oval) with a glossy resin. This gives a sense of infinity, inferring that both the landscapes and our ideologies expand and contract outside the image”  In: Bukantas, A. (ed.) (2012) The John Moores painting prize: 2012. Liverpool: National Museums & Galleries on Merseyside, p.46.

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Hall, S.E. (2010) Temporal. [Oil on panel]. In: Petry, M. (2013) Nature morte. Contemporary artists reinvigorate the still-life tradition. Farnborough: Thames & Hudson, p.238.
“Temporal is from a series of paintings based on three-dimensional PET (positron emission tomography) scans. Hall writes: ‘I use medical imagery as my point of departure for a contemporary meditation on the nature of mortality. The idea of medical imagery, something that images the skeleton while we are still alive, seems somehow impossible for our minds to fully grasp. The body, presented in a form of stasis, is frozen between life and death.”

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Verran, V. (2011) Bonner-space (weight). 60cm diameter Available at: http://www.virginiaverran.com/pictures1302.html [Accessed: 26 February 2017].
Virginia Verran uses watercolour & pencil to create large-scale round drawings using delicate lines to depict fantasy scenes.

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Sian Bowen – Nova Zembla project via the Claude Glass – https://bowenatrijksmuseum.wordpress.com/2011/03/01/through-the-pack-ice/ and Available at:  https://bowenatrijksmuseum.files.wordpress.com/2011/03/set3-2.jpg [Accessed: 12 March 2017].
A still from “The video that I took of the shifting ice pack reflected in a replica Claude Glass, is reminiscent of the fragmented prints carried so many years before on the same route through the sea.” “Intrigued by the way in which the Nova Zembla prints and books were transformed through their time locked for centuries in the ice, I decided to make the journey into the pack ice of the Arctic. As a result, the objects themselves have taken on new meanings and associations for me. Retracing part of the route that Barents and his crew made to Nova Zembla, was an extraordinary experience.”   Siân Bowen, Guest Artist in Drawing, the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam, 2010-11.

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Helen Chadwick Body Visual. Available at: http://www.artscatalyst.org/body-visual [Accessed: 12 March 2017]
Helen Chadwick, Body Visual, worked with embryonic tissue at Kings College, 1996. An exhibition of new commissions by artists examining key areas of medical science. Circular forms are common in science research (cultivations are often done in circular Petri dishes).

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Kroner, H. (2014) Tondo 3. [Ink, enamel on paper on linen]. 130x130cm. Available at: http://www.widewalls.ch/artwork/harald-kroner/tondo-3/ [Accessed: 27 February 2017].
“As the title suggests (a tondo is a Renaissance term for a circular work of art), this artwork is part of a series with a circular form without edges. It is made of paper painted with ink and enamel, then glued on a canvas. Its round shape confers it a multidimensional character, since it can be hanged, in line with the artist’s intention, in four directions. As often with Kröner’s work, poetry and beauty emerge from the subtle combination of a relatively rigid framework (here, the vertical and horizontal grey lines), with more random and lively colour marks.”

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Currin, J. (2015) Nude in a Convex Mirror. [Oil on canvas]. Available at: https://www.artsy.net/artwork/john-currin-nude-in-a-convex-mirror [Accessed: 26 February 2017]. and…Available at: https://theartstack.com/artist/john-currin/nude-convex-mirror [Accessed: 26 February 2017].
John Currin “is best known for satirical figurative paintings which deal with provocative sexual and social themes in a technically skillful manner. His work shows a wide range of influences, including sources as diverse as the Renaissance, popular culture magazines, and contemporary fashion models. He often distorts or exaggerates the erotic forms of the female body, and has stressed that his characters are reflections of himself rather than inspired by real people. “His technical skills”, Calvin Tomkins has written, “which include elements of Old Master paint application and high-Mannerist composition, have been put to use on some of the most seductive and rivetingly weird figure paintings of our era.”

Domestic interiors

Gilman, H. (1912) Shopping list. [Oil on canvas] Online. Available at: http://www.tate.org.uk/art/research-publications/camden-town-group/nicola-moorby-her-indoors-women-artists-and-depictions-of-the-domestic-interior-r1104359 [Accessed: 29 March 2017].
A captured moment in time…

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Diebenkorn, R. (1963) Corner of studio – sink. [Oil on canvas] Online. Available at: http://collection.diebenkorn.org/collections/6688/interiors-on-canvas/objects [Accessed: 29 March 2017].
Richard Diebenkorn uses colourful, impasto paint to paint everyday scenes almost as a visual diary. Many of his works are abstract landscapes.

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Guston, P. (1973) Painting, Smoking, Eating. [Online] Available at: http://www.stedelijk.nl/en/artwork/68-painting-smoking-eating [Accessed: 26 February 2017].Philip Guston uses colourful, impasto paint to paint everyday scenes almost as a visual diary.

“From the perspective of contemporary art, the most influential purveyor of deformation may have been Philip Guston, who late in life turned from Abstract Expressionism to cartoonish paintings of body parts and anthropomorphic objects. Gusto’s willingness to jettison the pieties of Abstract Expressionism created great consternation among his AE colleagues, who saw his move as a betrayal of their common values. However, it also made him a hero among younger artists, who saw in his late work, permission to subvert god taste and formal decorum in an embrace of the grotesque. His paintings feature floating heads held submerged in water, giant eyeballs resting on the horizon like rising (or setting) suns, and dissolute smokers and drinkers glumly contemplating their lives from the safety of their beds, as in the aptly titles Painting, Smoking, Eating, 1973. In this, and many works, body parts and other objects – shoes, feet, irons, severed limbs, brushes, nails, books, cigarette buts – are piled or scattered over bleak landscapes.” In: Heartney, E. (2013) Art & today. London: Phaeton Press, p.195.

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Murphy, C. (1980) Stairwell. [oil on canvas]. In: Godfrey, T. (2014). Painting today. London: Phaidon Press, p.225.
As well as being a place of safety and normality, ‘home’ can be “a place of waiting and trauma”. The narrative here might be an eavesdropper at the top of the stairs, listening in to dialogue they are not meant to hear? This domestic interior also contains nods to the painting of figures, interior space, hints at a landscape through the window and still life of a group of elephants marching along the windowsill. Leaving the viewer to ask “What is actually going on?”

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Thiebaud, W. (1983) Black shoes. [Oil on board]. Online. Available at: https://www.artsy.net/artwork/wayne-thiebaud-black-shoes [Accessed: 29 March 2017].
Wayne Thiebaud uses colourful, impasto paint to paint everyday scenes almost as a visual diary. Mostly known for his paintings of cakes, pies, pastries, and toys.
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Kentridge, W. (1994) Felix in exile. [Video stills]. In: Kalb, P. (2014). Art since 1980: Charting the contemporary. London: Laurence King Publishing, p.162.
Animated film replaces pages of drawings depicting Kentridge’s personal memory of South African society prior to the demise of apartheid.
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Oehlen, A. (2003) Bad (Bath). [Oil on canvas]. In: Kalb, P. (2014). Art since 1980: Charting the contemporary. London: Laurence King Publishing, p.259-260.

Painted in an expressionist style, a uniform gray palette and with points of recognition of form and features – some floating and some firmly fixed. Oehlen has commented that painting has survived because it permits “the visible working through of inferences, misunderstandings, ideas to be criticized, and also your own mistakes. It’s not a principle, not a justification – it’s work. It means nothing else.”

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Gottgens, K. (2011) Interior. [oil on canvas]. In: Beers, K. (2014). 100 painters of tomorrow. London: Thames & Hudson, p.119.
Using found images from family photos Gottgens interprets the normal photographic representation of place/space in a more atmospheric manner by using techniques such as blurring, dripping, sweeping and pooling paint. “My aim is to create paintings that present a world slightly off-kilter, suddenly menacing and uncertain, in surreal scenes that express our fragile attempt at order in the face of entropy and collapse”.

Ideas for tondo painting

I like the idea if trying to create a piece along the lines of Parmigianino’s convex mirror-like wooden sphere painting. The  renditions of Medusa by both Caravaggio and Mindy Lee fascinate me. The introduction of some abstraction also appeals along the lines of Delaunay and maybe too a cubist/surrealist approach similar to Dali.

The use of different kind of surfaces is also appealing, such as those used by Fairnington and others – wood, board, paper plates…

Verran’s use of delicate lines may also help with my colour pencil drawings for Exercise 4.2.

But most of all, I’m really looking forward to experimenting with thinned oil paint and different techniques of application, such as pooling, blurring, layering (e.g. Oehlen, Gottgens) as well as making expressive gestural marks (e.g. Andrews), while all the time trying to allude to some kind of narrative story (e.g. Murphy, Kentridge).
Stuart Brownlee – 512319
30 March 2017
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stuart512319

Open College of the Arts (OCA) student currently studying Drawing 1

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